I may be, and doubtless am, saying much that is quite unnecessary, but I have tried to bear in mind some of my own mistakes, and of others around me. I have been impressed with the fact that librarians seem to think that they must or ought to know everything, and get to think they do know. It is a delusion. One can’t know it all, and only a hopeless case tries.
Be more than content to be ignorant on many things. Look at your position as a high-grade business one, look after the working details, have things go smoothly, know the whereabouts and classification of the books, and let people choose their own mental food, but see to it that all that is put before them is wholesome.
The librarian as a host
Maude R. Henderson, in Public Libraries, September, 1896
Each librarian needs to have an ideal for society; must have before him an end of which his work will be only a part.
It is the peculiar position of the librarian to be so situated that with the consent of his trustees he may, simply by virtue of his office, be able to draw about him more of the elements of usefulness than almost any other person. Even a librarian who is a stranger is not taking matters unduly into his own hands in immediately availing himself of this privilege, for he is placed in the community where he can bring together those who have something to give and those who wish to receive. His invitation is non-partisan, non-sectarian, and without social distinctions.
The object of this article upon the librarian as a host is to suggest methods of usefulness for the community through the forms of entertainment at the disposal of the librarian. A surprising number of people, not having attractive surroundings, and not having unbounded resources within themselves, lead dull lives. The theater is expensive, sometimes not available, often not attractive, and one of the attractions of a library evening will be that it is “some place to go,” but does no violence either to their scruples or their ideas of economy. Many who will not identify themselves with clubs, from an aversion to organization, will appreciate the freedom from it here, for there will be no officers, no rules, no fees.
If there is no especial note that the librarian thinks it would be well to sound, he may let it be known that the first of a series of entertainments to be given by the library, at the library, will be, for instance, a talk upon the Child in History, Our American Illustrators, or some attractive subject.